SBC News AGCOM fines Google and Twitch for Dignity Decree violations 

AGCOM fines Google and Twitch for Dignity Decree violations 

AGCOM, the Media and Communications Authority of Italy, has imposed fines of €2.25mand €900,000 on Google and Twitch, respectively, for violating the advertising laws of the Dignity Decree.

The penalties were announced on 12 December and levied against the US tech giant’s European subsidiaries: Google Ireland Ltd and Twitch Interactive Germany.

In its filing, AGCOM disclosed that it had initiated an investigation of Google’s YouTube platform and the Twitch streaming service “following numerous reports received by the Authority”.

The Authority’s investigations revealed over 80 YouTube and Twitch channels with more than 20,000 videos promoting slot machines, gambling, sports betting, and scratch cards.

The channels infringed on the laws of the Dignity Decree, imposed as of July 2018. Passed into federal law in 2019 by the former Lega-5Star coalition government, the Dignity Decree imposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising (legacy and online) and across all Italian sports (professional and amateur).

AGCOM deems that Google and Twitch are responsible for distributing these videos, as they were published by third parties with whom the companies had commercial partnerships.

Following the intervention, the illegal content was removed as Google and Twitch were ordered to prevent future uploads of similar violating content under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

AGCOM revealed that it had further investigated TikTok, but exonerated the short-video platform due to the “absence of a contractual relationship with the content creators involved in the alleged violations.”

In September, Google avoided a €750,000 fine as Rome courts dismissed an AGCOM penalty related to ad-links promoting gambling that were displayed on Google search pages and YouTube channels.

As 2023 draws to a close, Italy’s Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF) is poised to issue a decree initiating major reforms in the online gambling sector. This will mark the first review of the nation’s online gambling laws since they were introduced in 2011.

The anticipated reforms will target online gambling concessions, licensing fees, regulatory oversight, and enhanced measures against illegal gambling.

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